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Why You Should Vote Yes on Measures U and B

Improving lives is the reason Valley Vision exists.  For 25-years we have dedicated ourselves to a community mission that values all people and wants their long-term success.  This means safer streets, better schools, cleaner air, and access to the Internet, quality food and healthcare, housing that’s affordable, and a meaningful job that allows people to provide for themselves and live well in our communities.

In Sacramento and in Roseville, residents’ long-term quality of life is not so certain.  Why?  In Roseville, 10-years of belt tightening due to the loss of a utility tax and the effects of online shopping have brought them to a point where there’s no place left to cut.  The effects are showing, and things will get worse unless action is taken.  In a city known for good management and financial conservatism, they smartly reached out to residents and involved them for over a year in finding a solution.  Increasing the local sales tax by a half-cent was the community’s consensus decision, raising the tax rate from one of the lowest in the region modestly.  If Measure B, is approved by voters this November, police and fire service levels will be maintained, cherished parks and libraries will stay open, and streets and roads will be maintained for commerce and connectivity.

In Sacramento the story is a bit different.  The city’s original Measure U was approved several years ago at a time of great financial stress.  A temporary half-cent sales tax was approved by voters to preserve essential city services like police and parks.  Today Sacramento voters are being asked to make permanent the original half-cent tax to continue essential services like police and parks and then add a half-cent more, for community investment.  A key feature of the extra half-cent contained in Measure U, says Mayor Steinberg, is fulfilling the promise of “Project Prosper”, a year-long community engagement process that aims to invest in underserved communities across the City, growing jobs and opportunity.

Valley Vision leadership and research have been part of Project Prosper from the start, and the effort is closely matched to the region-wide inclusive-economy-building effort informed by the Brookings Institute and driven by the Greater Sacramento Economic Council, Valley Vision, the Sacramento Area Council of Governments, and the Sacramento Metro Chamber.  New investment is critical to achieving the goal of a more vital, inclusive economy that works for everyone.

As part of “Valley Vision 3.0” – a board-driven initiative to strengthen Valley Vision and get us ready for what’s next – our volunteer leadership created a process late last year for Valley Vision to evaluate and take stands on important regional issues where our Triple-Bottom-Line voice can add value and vital perspective.

At the end of September, Valley Vision’s Board of Directors voted to endorse both Measure B and Measure U on the November ballot because each holds the promise of helping us all live better, more prosperous, just and sustainable lives – our Triple Bottom Line focus.

The larger message from Valley Vision is that City leaders must keep their compact with voters –  a cent given must result in an actual cent of investment in the community. This will require strong community oversight and regularly reporting of the results.  Yet more than performance reporting, good government practice ought to compel us all to constantly learn from experience about what’s working and what’s not, and to have the courage to change course based on solid data and widespread community input.  Our collective success depends upon it.

Bill Mueller is Valley Vision’s Chief Executive.